Meet RMC's Diversity, Equity
& Inclusion (DE&I) Team
“Supporting diversity efforts and driving a culture of inclusion were critical decision factors for me when I decided to join RMC last year. Within a month of my start date, I asked for volunteers to join an RMC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team and I was not disappointed with the turnout! Over the course of several months, this team has grown in our knowledge of the topic and through our openness, has created a place where every member has equal footing, contributes to the overall effort, and has become a very close-knit group where all can be their true selves. We are all passionate in that we’d love everyone at RMC to feel this way when performing their work and we are excited to bring this important effort forward.”
- Karen LaGraff, Corporate Vice President, Human Resources
"I was excited to be invited to be a part of the DE&I team because I felt I could contribute to the company’s growth as we worked together to develop a statement and a presence in the marketplace as a corporation and group of people that accepted and welcomed people’s differences. A diverse workplace tends to bring a larger worldview and potentially a perspective and talent that will help us grow sales and profits. As a female in what has been historically a man’s field for the last 30 years, I have experienced bias and harassment in various forms. As time went on, those behaviors have become unacceptable. Most companies that enforce that view have some kind of public statement that reflects those values. I wanted to work with the team to help develop that statement and culture at RMC so that we can attract the best talent, and grow the company. I have realized through this journey that we all have hidden biases regardless of how open-minded we feel we might be. As we become more aware, we hopefully become more compassionate, caring, accepting people."
- Karen Balint, Technical Services Manager, Water Energy
"When I was asked to join the DE&I team, I jumped at the opportunity to do so because I wanted to be a part of something that could make some positive changes in the way that people of color are stereotyped. I realized very quickly that stereotypes happen on all fronts, and that I may be guilty of doing this as well. We are all comfortable with associating ourselves with people that share the same background like us, and have to be willing to get uncomfortable to get a better understanding of others outside of our comfort zone."
- Don Milton, Production Supervisor, Chemical Processing
"Why did I want to join the DE&I Team when it was first being discussed being formed? It is simple, every company can do a better job accepting all people and their experiences. The one thing I did not know about myself before this group was implemented is that everyone (including me) has unconscious biases. And understanding this has made me a better human being."
- Leon Witham, Sr. Technical Specialist, Food Safety
Throughout my career, not just at RMC, I have witnessed comments, jokes, and actions among co-workers and others that disparaged people based solely on ethnicity, gender, culture, or ability. In many of those instances, I was not aware of a procedure or disciplinary action that could be taken to address the actions. I also did not feel that the culture of the places rejected the type of behavior. When I heard about the DE & I group forming and given the many national events of the prior year, I thought that volunteering for this group would open the opportunity to contribute to the creation of policies or training to help strengthen our corporate culture regarding diversity and inclusion. Through involvement in the team, I have witnessed how more people have been affected by the disparaging actions of others. I was also impressed with the diversity of the team. I learned to recognize my own unconscious biases and that diversity and inclusion cannot be mandated or forced on others. Instead of that, we need to focus on common goals and teach how diversity adds value to the company.
- Erick Ovando, Manager of Systems Development
“Diversity is an area that’s seriously lacking in the Water Treatment Industry. This has been the case for the 32+ years I have been in the industry and in each of the 5 companies I’ve worked for. Every company mentioned it but decades later it still hasn’t changedI’ve never had a work discussion or any training on the subject. Feel like I see the importance and recognize the value, but my efforts in the workplace have been ad hoc. No formalized plan, just actions based on my personal thoughts and life experiences. Have to believe there’s probably a better approach..”
- Rich Hartt, VP/General Manager, Water Energy
"I wanted to join the team to be a part of incorporating a strong and impactful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program at RMC. Showing that DE&I is not just important, but critical, and should be intertwined in the core of our company culture. It will support and strengthen our business in so many facets. At the core, as human beings, we need to have an open mind to listen more, show empathy and consideration for others, better understand the challenges, and have a real commitment to drive change."
- Lauri Calarco, Senior Marketing Manager, Food Safety
"I have a strong passion for talent acquisition with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and for making company values come to life. I have a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the needs of diverse groups of people which is why I joined the DE&I team. A DE&I recruiting strategy cannot be one person’s or even one team’s responsibility. Cross-departmental input and participation are essential for success. The DE&I team's commitment and support will help gain buy-in to help change RMC’s culture. Although the journey has just begun it is important to work together at all levels of the organization to build and implement all new initiatives so we can make our company’s DE&I vision a reality."
- Melissa Jewell, Talent Acquisition Manager, Human Resources
"I may not be a parent but I am a God Parent of two beautiful brown-skinned children who have their whole lives ahead of them. I want them both to know that their God Mother will continue to fight on their behalf. I want them both to believe they are capable and can do anything they set their minds and hearts on, but that doesn’t say there are not foundational conversations that I have with them alongside their parents. I hope that one day, those conversations are null and void. I advocate for my multiracial family members who are still too young to know they may be judged for the color of their skin. Will these two beautiful girls be excepted by either of their communities let alone in school or work? They are smart, artistic, beautiful, but I worry. I advocate for my family and friends that identify with the LGBQTIA community. I have seen people I love disowned by family and work for being themselves. I have seen people be scared to be their authentic selves in fear of losing jobs, getting hurt, and losing everything.
So you may be wondering what does this has to do with DE&I at RMC. RMC has existed and thrived since 1888 and with our DE&I guidance we, RMC, will continue to thrive for years to come. We can address peoples concerns who feel they have lacked a voice, we can drive our missions to coexist with our partner's mission, we can create a safe space for all employees, we can choose who we would like to do business with, but most of all we can take our empathic stance to what our world needs."
- Amanda Fogarty, Marketing Specialist & Sales Support Manager,
Better Together – Different Together
Diversity Vision: Rochester Midland Corporation (RMC) is a company where people can bring their true selves to work: where all people are embraced for their differences, business processes are geared towards inclusion, and people feel that they are valued while being treated fairly and equitably.
At RMC, we believe that everyone deserves to be respected, included and empowered; providing an environment that encourages growth and our best work. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are valued at RMC. Race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, different abilities, military experience and life experiences are what make us unique. We celebrate and welcome that uniqueness. It contributes to our understanding of our customers, communities and the world, making us better at everything we do.